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NATIONAL FORUM OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION JOURNAL VOLUME 26, NUMBER 2, 2009-2010

A COMPARISON OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS IN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITIES


John P. Closen Western Illinois University
ABSTRACT This article examines the internship requirements of nine Illinois universities. Sixteen individual components were examined in order to ascertain the rigor of the programs and if the universities were consistent in their requirements that all students meet the Educational Leaders Constituent Council (ELCC) Standards.

n recent months, considerable attention has been given to the Illinois School Leader Task Force (February, 2008) and the report presented to the Illinois General Assembly concerning principal preparation programs. The report offered three recommendations for improving leadership quality in the schools. Those three recommendations are as follows: 1. State Policies that set high standards for certification. 2. Formal Partnerships between school districts, institutions of higher education, and other qualified partnerships. 3. Refocused Principal Preparation Programs committed to developing and rigorously assessing those capacities in aspiring principals that are likely to enhance student learning. The report also presented a review of Principal Internship Programs around the country and identified many of the components that were essential to those programs. Assessment of performance and exit criteria for all candidates was also examined.

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This report and the plethora of articles and books surrounding the principal internship will provide insight into how principal preparation programs, and internship experiences must be modified or refined in order that school children everywhere will experience the school level leadership that is necessary for all children to be successful in their educational careers. Missing from the literature was a focus on how school superintendent preparation programs and internships were assessed. What are the criteria for superintendent internships across the state of Illinois and how do the different preparation programs compare with each other? Wiggins and McTighe (2006) identified three stages that would help develop a successful internship process. Those stages are composed of desired results, acceptable evidence, and the learning plan itself. Under the Illinois programs, the learning plan would be the interns proposal, which would include the activities with their identified results, and appropriate artifacts which will serve as the acceptable evidence. Nine universities in the state of Illinois offer certification programs that lead to the superintendents certification. Sixteen components of these programs were used to compare the requirements set forth by each university during the internship experience for these candidates (Table 1 & 2).

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Table 1 Comparison of Superintendency Internship Programs in Illinois Universities 2008

Contract or Agreement

# Required Activities

Limit on Activities N Y Y Y N Y Y Y Y

Post- Assessment

Self-Assessment

Standards Based

University Aurora University Eastern Illinois University Illinois State University Loyola University Chicago Northern Illinois University Roosevelt University Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Western Illinois University

N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y

Y Y N N Y N Y Y Y

N Y Y Y N Y N Y N

Y N Y N N N Y N Y

Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y

N/A 6 6 12 N/A 6 12 N/A 18

Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y

Time Log

Proposal

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Table 2 Comparison of Superintendency Internship Programs in Illinois Universities 2008


Portfolio w/artifacts? Electronic? Paper? P N/A P E/P E E P P P

Log and Reflection Paper after # hrs

Supt Feedback /Eval Form

University Aurora University Eastern Illinois University Illinois State University Loyola University Chicago Northern Illinois University Roosevelt University Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Western Illinois University

N/A 6 6 12 N/A 6 2 10 5

upon agreement upon agreement upon agreement weekly/8 hours N/A 100 75 weekly 75

Y Y Y Y N Y Y Y Y

Y Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y

Y Y N Y N N N Y Y

N/A 200 135 100 100200 200 150 150 300

A formal signed contract between the intern and the public school administrator they were interning under was required by eight of the nine universities. This agreement basically delineated the responsibilities of both parties. Some internship candidates were required to complete a selfassessment survey at the beginning of their internship to determine the areas of strength and areas where they needed to gain more experience

# of Hours Required

# Reflection Papers

Shadow other Supt

Final Project

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during the program. Only six of the nine universities considered this to be an important component of the internship. A completed formal proposal detailing the activities, projects, and experiences the intern would be focusing on during the internship was mandated in four of the universities. In some cases these proposals needed to be in place and approved before the student could start acquiring hours toward the internship. All nine of the universities based the internship experiences, specific objectives and related activities, on the six Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards (ISLLC) or Educational Leadership Constituent Council Standards (ELCC). There was a large variance in the number of required activities that were mandated by the different universities. Three of the programs did not have any compulsory activities that an intern had to complete during the internship. Three other programs had six required activities, while two had twelve required activities and only one university mandated eighteen required activities. Additional activities were allowed and encouraged in all of the programs. Logs indicating where and when the different internship activities took place were part of the interns responsibilities in all of the universities. Requirements and conditions for logging hours varied from university to university. Generally speaking, an intern could not log any hours that consisted of activities that they would generally be responsible for while performing their normal duties. Certain activities were either discouraged, or limited in the number of hours that could be used towards the internship in seven of the nine programs. Parent conferences, supervision of athletic events or other extra-curricular activities were some of the activities that fell into this category. Most programs tried to direct the intern to complete activities that were directly related to the ISLLC /ELCC Standards and the development of leadership skills.

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An emphasis was placed, in eight of the programs, to either allow or mandate that the interns spend some time during their internship either observing or shadowing administrators at different grade levels and/or with students with different demographics than the interns home school. Milstein and Krueger (1997) suggest that multiple and alternative internships can provide opportunities for interns to experience more diverse clinical experiences. Working with outside schools not only helps to bring some diversity to the interns experiences, it also exposes them to different leadership styles and different educational levels. The process of reflecting on your experiences is defined as a means by which (you) can develop a greater self-awareness about the nature and impact of (your) performance (Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993). Eight of the nine internship programs required reflection papers to be submitted during the internship. Once again there was little consistency in this component of the program. The number and composition of reflection papers to be submitted varied greatly between the universities. According to Capasso and Daresh (2001), one of the major lessons an intern has to learn is how effective school administrators should function as reflective practitioners. With this in mind, six of the internship programs require that during their internships all interns must attend seminars/classes to share experiences with other interns and reflect on their internship. Cordeiro & Smith-Sloan (1995) state that reflection should be an integral part of all internships. Clark (1993) posits that these seminars build on the principles of adult learning whereby adults learn from each other. They learn to structure meaning from their internship experiences, and through discussion enhance their ability to analyze and solve real world problems. When analyzing the differences in the internship programs, the timeframe for submitting logs and reflections also demonstrated a lack of consistency between the programs. Some programs required submission of these items after a certain number of hours were logged,

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seventy-five to a hundred, while others would submit the artifacts weekly, or upon agreement between the intern and the university professor. In one case the artifacts were to be submitted at the conclusion of the internship experience. In every internship program the on site supervisor either submitted an evaluation of the intern to the university professor or had input into the interns final evaluation. In most cases a final evaluation form was completed and signed by all parties at the end of the experience. Post assessment surveys were given in five of the nine programs. Six of the programs had required interns complete a pre assessment survey. These assessments were examined to determine if the intern felt they had grown during their internship, or had addressed areas of concern that were indentified in the pre assessment survey. Final projects, major projects, or long term projects were also a component in five of the programs. These projects were usually based on the ISLLC/ELCC Standards and were often reflected in the hours logged by the interns. The required number of hours that each program sets for the internship experience also varied greatly. At one university no set number was provided. It was up to the university professor and the intern to determine which experiences would fulfill the requirements of the internship, not base it on predetermined timelines. Other programs required certain activities based on the standards, major projects as noted above, and a specific number of hours to be logged. Hours of engagement varied as did the number of semesters interns were in the program. Milstein and Krueger (1997) argue that internships should take place over the course of a school year and during the school day. This should happen with such regularity that the interns are able to experience the position in its entirety and be able to eventually internalize the administrative role. Sufficient time should

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also be allowed in order for the interns to gain knowledge and develop the skills that would be needed to be successful in the administrative role. One program was offered over a one-semester period and needed a minimum of one hundred hours to be logged. A minimum of three hundred hours over a two-semester internship was found to be the most demanding program as far as time committed to the internship. An Internship Portfolio is to be submitted to the university professor at the end of the internship in eight of the nine programs. This portfolio will include artifacts and reports that document the experiences the intern has had during this process. It will also include such items as the time log, reflections, major reports, assessments and evaluations. Eight of the nine programs require the portfolio, mostly in the form of a binder, but a current trend of submitting an electronic portfolio is surfacing. Currently three of the internship programs require an electronic portfolio. The internship program that does not require a formal portfolio does require major reports completed in a formal format to be submitted documenting the activities that have taken place during the internship.

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REFERENCES Capasso, R., & Daresh, J. (2001). The school administrator internship handbook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Incorporated. Clark, M.C. (1993). Transformational learning. In S.B. Merriam (Ed.), An update on adult learning theory. San Francisco: JosseyBass. Cordeiro & Smith-Sloan (1995). Apprenticeships for administrative interns: Learning to talk like a principal. A Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco, CA. ELCC Standards for School Leaders. Retrieved November 2, 2008, from http://www.npbea.org/ELCC/ELCCStandards%20_502.pdf Illinois School Leader Task Force (2008, February). Report to the Illinois General Assembly. Milstein, M. M., & Krueger, J. (1997). Improving Educational Administration Programs: What we have learned over the past decade. Peabody Journal of Education, 72(2). Osterman, K., & Kottkamp, R. (1993). Reflective practice for educators: Improving schooling through professional development. California, Corwin Press. Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2006). Understanding by design: ASCD College Textbook Series. Upper Saddle, NJ: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.